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SOLIHULL: Anger over 100 home Balsall Common expansion

SOLIHULL: Anger over 100 home Balsall Common expansion

Image: LDRS

Building 100 new homes on the outskirts of a Solihull village would destroy another “precious” piece of green belt and cause “intolerable” traffic problems according to critics.

Battle lines are being drawn over plans for another sizeable expansion of Balsall Common, with developers seeking permission for a new housing scheme on fields to the south.

Crucially the piece of land, off the Kenilworth Road, is not one of the six separate sites in and around the village that the council has itself earmarked for new estates.

Concern that an area not included in the Draft Local Plan – the crucial blueprint for house-building over the next 15 years – was being targeted led to a fierce backlash when proposals first surfaced last December.

Campaigners said this week they were hugely disappointed that a formal planning application – for 95 homes and five “self-build” plots – had gone in despite the strong opposition.

A second petition against the project has already been launched, ahead of a council decision expected later this year.

Lionel Fountain, among more than 100 signatories, said: “I am sick to death of the erosion of our countryside.

“Balsall Common is being singled out unfairly; we cannot handle further development with what is already in the pipeline.”

Another objector, Alison Worth, added: “Once we lose the green belt it is gone forever. There is plenty of [brownfield] land and unused buildings that could be used for housing.”

Cllr Diane Howell (Con, Meriden) started the latest petition, having collected more than 400 signatures when the issue first reared its head before Christmas.

She said she was “really disappointed” that developers had chosen to press ahead despite many residents making their feelings clear six months ago.

“If this application is approved it makes a mockery of the Plan process,” she said, pointing out that the council’s own officers had ruled out allocating this area for housing.

Loss of green belt is especially contentious in a rural part of the borough which has already seen rapid expansion and is among the worst affected by the HS2 rail line.

Although the impact on one of the area’s busiest roads – the A452 – has also caused concern, with Cllr Howell warning of “untold disruption.”

“This section of the Kenilworth Road already suffers with traffic congestion – if cars from 100 additional households were added to this it really would be intolerable.”

In papers handed to the council, the developers – Generator Balsall Common and Minton Group – set out their case for the scheme.

They argued that the plans would help to address a “serious and significant shortfall” of housing in the borough – with the scheme located in an “unquestionably” well-connected area.

“Not only would this scheme deliver a large number of housing units,
a considerable proportion of the number of units would be affordable
(40 units), with suitable units for older and disabled people, as
well as delivery of self-build plots,” said the planning statement.

Papers also insisted that the estate intended for 4.2 hectares of land had been “sensitively designed” and the layout would retain mature trees and native hedgerows.

The application will be considered by Solihull’s planning committee at a future date.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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